Joan Rivers and Universal Life Church Ordination

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by potpourri, Sep 5, 2014.

  1. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    OK, I think most Americans would respect that. But that still doesn't mean they would respect the use of military titles conferred by religious organizations.
  2. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    Now we're moving more toward the appreciation that the Universal Life Church or as you state some "ULC offshoots" make it clear that these are honorary in nature as far as the degree is concerned.

    I really appreciate a lively discussion here. See in the past the people who advocated for their Universal Life Church credentials whether ordinations, certificates, or degrees would lose the argument because they would say that their degree is worth as much as someone who earned a Ph.D., etc. And they would hurt themselves by trying to make it like they had earned it and so forth which that's going to be a losing battle no matter how they try to cut it.

    I notice that the usual people on here who have their Ph.D.'s and all kind of Doctorates didn't really weigh on it too much because when I was presenting the issue it was from a vastly different perspective. Most would just be sarcastic and say "I signed my dog up for ordination," and in doing so, that shows ill intent at really having a sincere discussion on the topic.

    So now do you feel since they mention that the degree is honorary that this makes it better?
  3. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    Again CalDog you're making too much out of the use of the title. It comes down to intent as I stated before. If I were a Captain in the Salvation Army and one were to ask me how this was obtained, I would simply explain that it's of a religious nature and no more. If I want to be a liar and make something up, I could say that I'm a Captain in a police academy but if I do that, my intentions and motives are being dishonest. That's what I'm trying to project here. I have a question, "I wonder what they should do about Captain Kangaroo?" "Who gave him his credentials?" Why was he called "Captain," if we use your logic he shouldn't be able to use that kind of title because it's not secular or government approved.

    My point is that if it's a religious entity the government has no place to say what is right and wrong or to infringe on the free exercise thereof. Yes there are always risks so in your example of the person who uses freedom of speech and says something really bad it is their right, and it might not be appreciated, but they nevertheless have the right to do so. If a recipient of the Doctor of Divinity uses it for its intended purpose for religious grounds I see no problem with it. If they choose to make themselves more than that e.g., a Medical Doctor (M.D.,) well they have crossed the line and their intentions are dishonest.
  4. potpourri

    potpourri New Member

    I think Philosophy is clearly winning the debate. None of the big guys on here with all of their advanced degrees are even making a dent into the discussion. Where are you guys why aren't you taking on Philosophy?
  5. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    I am not concerned about "Captain Kangaroo" or "Doctor J". Neither is anybody else. That's why they both had long careers.

    However, there is clearly a potential for abuse of religious titles.
    And you know this, because you have acknowledged that it's possible for someone to "cross the line with dishonest intentions."

    If that happens, it might be reasonable for the government to step in.
    But you also stated that "if it's a religious entity the government has no place to say what is right and wrong or to infringe on the free exercise thereof."

    So what should the government do in the case of abuse of religious titles -- which you acknowledge is possible ?
    If government has "no place to say what is right or wrong or infringe on the free exercise", then what can be done about abuse ?
  6. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    First you need to address the issue at hand CalDog instead of conveniently changing topics. So are you now agreeing that the Universal Life Church has the right to use ordinations, certificates, and degrees for solely religious purposes? Are you now in agreement that if a person were to get such credentials that if they were to be honest and state that they were given by the Universal Life Church for religious reasons and that was what they used the credentials for that it is acceptable?

    Do you agree that there is a difference between degrees that are academic vs. religious in nature? We need to get these matters resolved first before we move to a different direction. My contention is it is the motive or intent of the person is the issue and that a religious entity such as the Universal Life Church as much as it might be unorthodox has the right to exist and to operate under the scope for which it has stated.
  7. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    Thank you Potpourri for the nice compliment. I do notice no one is being sarcastic about the "I ordained my dog hahahahaha," anymore. For once at least the few who are addressing the topic are doing so with respect and honest dialogue.

    As far as advanced degrees of others, I'm somewhat surprised that none of the advanced degree holders and those who have doctorates have joined the discussion, but my point is just because you have a doctorate doesn't mean you know more than someone else. There are plenty of those that I know who do hold some, but they have no clue on how to interact with others let alone debate a topic.

    The Universal Life Church might be unorthodox, but nonetheless, it does have the right to exist and it sounds like I'm beginning to get the ones who have been having discussions with me to see that somewhat.
  8. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    I have not claimed otherwise. I will repeat what I previously stated in Post #16 above:

    In other words, I have already agreed that it is reasonable for religious organizations to issue whatever credentials they like, as long as they are used for religious purposes only. But I also maintain that if certain religious credentials -- specifically degrees -- are advertised in the secular realm, then secular rules may apply.

    I have no problem with full disclosure. In fact, I previously (in Post #8) noted that Oregon law requires full disclosure of unaccredited degrees, including religious degrees. I have no problem with that.

    No, at least not in the US. As stated previously (in Post #14 above), all bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in the US are considered academic, by definition. Some bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees would be accepted as both academic and religious. However, there is no such thing as a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree that is religious, yet not academic.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2014
  9. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    I see that now you seem to be coming more and more to my side. You're now indicating that a "Doctor of Divinity," should be exempt from regulation if used for religious purposes.

    So that's exactly what the intended purpose of the Universal Life Church is. I believe that there are some that call Universal Life Church a diploma mill, but the ULC is upfront about what they offer and are within the realm of religious liberty. To call the Universal Life Church a diploma mill is totally false as they are only issuing credentials of a religious nature and state that the credentials are non-accredited.

    My point is that it is how the recipient of such credentials uses it that either they use it for the intended purpose which is for religious use. For any other reason is dishonest and misleading.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2014
  10. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    I have not called ULC a "diploma mill". It would be more accurate to call ULC a "religious credential mill".

    The potential market for milled religious credentials is probably not as large as the market for milled degrees generally. However, it's a safer business, because religious titles (unlike degrees) are essentially unregulated in the US. You can't be arrested for breaking the law, if there are no laws.

    And you still have not explained what the government -- or anyone else -- should do about such abuse.

    If religious degrees aren't being used for the "intended purpose", then presumably they are being used for secular purposes.
    I would suggest that government has the right to intervene and apply secular laws in this situation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2014
  11. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    Ok, so in the US when a Bishop becomes one most are awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree so those other churches that do so, or religious entities would need to cease to exist. In your view the only thing that a religious entity would have the right to exist is to offer ordinations and nothing more.

    CalDog, good thing we have a separation of church and state. On the one hand you say that religious entities should be entitled to exemption for religious reasons to issue degrees so long as used for that reason, but at the same time you keep putting in the secular part. You bring up religious exemption, but on the other hand, you still think that the government needs to be involved. You can't have it both ways.
  12. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    I believe in the freedom of religious liberty with no secular influence unless civil liberties have been broken and violated. In example, what the priests did to children.
  13. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I haven't moved anywhere. An honorary degree anyone can purchase is something I wouldn't brag about.
  14. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    As stated previously, I have no problem with a religious exemption for religious degrees.
    Many US states already offer such exemptions.

    However, there is no guarantee that a religious degree will only be used for religious activities.
    If a religious-exempt degree is used inappropriately for secular activities, then the terms of the exemption have been broken.
    And if the exemption no longer applies, then the degree should be subject to the same treatment as a secular degree.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2014
  15. potpourri

    potpourri New Member

    Philosophy is kicking you guys in this debate. You both are so on the fence. One time you agree but then you keep going back and forth.

    Dr. John Bear has referred to Universal Life Church as a mill as too Dr. Steve Levicoff. Surprisingly neither one says a thing about it now.

    I don't think they dare take on Philosophy. Where are you Dr. Bear and Dr. Levicoff the so-called experts on accreditation? What happened to the ones that like to joke around about your dogs getting ordained online? Philosophy really winning in my view.
  16. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    CalDog your argument makes no sense. On the one hand you state that you have no problems with exemption for religious degrees if used solely for that purpose only. But on the other hand you have previously stated that all degrees are academic in nature and must be under secular treatment. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

    Universal Life Church falls under the religious exemption. There's no way that would change unless it were to change its method. As far as a religious person if they hold a title, degree, or whatever credential so long as they do their religious duties I see no issue with it.

    It's no different from a priest. When a priest does his job and does what he's suppose to do he can continue his ministry. If he abuses children then he has violated a trust that was given and has broken laws so that would be a case where the authorities would have to step in. But this has nothing to do with the religious entity or church it has rather to do with what the individual decides to do.
  17. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    I thought it was clear, but I'll try once more.

    1. In the US, all degrees are academic. Some academic degrees are also religious.

    2. Academic degrees are normally subject to secular laws about things like accreditation. However, it is possible to exempt religious schools from the secular laws, and some states do this.

    3. Some religious schools choose to take advantage of the exemption. But others do not. Harvard Divinity School, for example, offers religious degrees, and they meet all secular requirements. A religious degree from ULS , on the other hand, is not accredited and does not meet typical secular requirements.

    4. So I am not claiming that "all degrees are academic in nature and must be under secular treatment". In the US, all religious degrees are considered academic, but they may or may not be required to meet secular standards. Some religious schools take advantage of an exemption, while others do not.

    5. If a school claims a religious exemption from secular standards, and only offers religious degrees for religious purposes, that is OK by me. But if there is abuse of the exemption, then the government can take it away.


    Maybe it would help to provide a real-world example. Louisiana Baptist University is a religious school that operates without accreditation under a religious exemption. In 1998, LBU made plans to offer unaccredited degrees in business (which is a non-religious field). The government of Louisiana decided that this would be an abuse of the religious exemption, and threatened to shut the school down. The school dropped its plans and was allowed to continue in operation, but it only offers religious degrees.

    I would argue that the government's actions in this case were reasonable. It is possible to abuse a religious exemption, and in that case the exemption should be withdrawn.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2014
  18. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    I said that I'd have an issue if Universal Life Church operated otherwise but they only issue degrees under a religious cause. I am aware of Louisiana Baptist University and I do agree if they did operate other than in a religious context they would have to get proper government approval.

    In example if a religious entity were to offer legal degrees and such that would be beyond the scope of religious purposes. So what Universal Life Church is offering is religious purposes. If the holder of such credentials states that it's something other than religious in nature they would be using in under false pretenses. If they use it for it's intended reason I see no violation and reason for the government or secular interference. It is the freedom of religion so it's how the person uses it whether it's used for the right or wrong reasons.
  19. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Guys? Philosophy and CalDog are debating. I simply said that I would not brag about a Doctor of Divinity purchased from ULC. No one has given a compelling argument for why it's something to brag about. Until someone tries to contest that, I am not debating anything. I'm getting the impression that you're just instigating.
  20. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I don't know about most Americans, but I couldn't care less if people refer to themselves with pre-nomial titles that are also used by the military, police, fire departments, and so forth. I don't think that's necessarily confusing at all, I mean, if I go on a boat ride, I don't think it's a U.S. naval vessel just because the guy in charge is called "Captain". And then there are things like Kentucky Colonels and Nebraska Admirals.

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